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Buying a VoIP Gateway? Here are 10 Things to Consider

We previously wrote a brief introduction about VoIP gateways recently, and from there we learned some basic concepts about Gateways, which handle the task of transferring voice or data traffic from a circuit-switched telephone network to an IP-based network. We also talked in passing about some of the factors you have to consider when choosing a Gateway for your business or company.

Now here’s a ten-point guide that can help you make that decision on what exactly you need.

1. Cost. The question of cost should be the first thing you should address. For one, your company might have a budget for such equipment, and you might be in the market for different brands or product sets with comparable features. Part of this would be the cost of setting up, maintenance, and even support from your vendor.

2. Hardware vs. Software. Hardware-based VoIP gateways are perceived to be more reliable and secure. Further, these run on their own processors, and hence do not drain computing resources away from existing computers. Software-based gateways, meanwhile cost less, and are easier to update, upgrade or modify as the need arises. It’s therefore a tradeoff between reliability and flexibility.

3. Chassis size. If you’re planning to install a hardware-based gateway, the chassis size is usually indicative of the gateway’s packet processing capacity. Slow processing means poor voice quality and low capacity. This will not apply if you’re opting for a software-based gateway. In that case, it’s the processing capabilities of the computer you will be using that will be important.

4. Capacity. This is in terms of number of simultaneous VoIP calls the gateway can handle without being overworked. The gateway should be able to cope with the regular traffic of your network, and should also accommodate traffic spikes and expansion (if your organization is growing, for instance).

5. Foreign exchange office (FXO) ports. The primary function of VoIP gateways is to convert signals from the public switched telephone network into IP packets. For analog PSTN lines, FXO ports are needed. Small businesses and remote offices would usually need at least four FXO ports.

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